AFC South: Tim Shaw

Tennessee Titans cut-down analysis

August, 31, 2013
8/31/13
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Most significant move: Marc Mariani came back from a vicious broken leg suffered in the preseason in 2012. A shoulder injury suffered in the preseason opener cost him the rest of camp and the preseason, and the Titans put him in injured-reserve Saturday, ending his season. He might have been ready as soon as Week 3, but the Titans clearly didn't like the uncertainty. They could have waived him injured, exposing him to a claim. In that scenario, St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher, who was instrumental in the Titans drafting the receiver/returner out of Montana in 2010, might have wanted him. But the Rams or anyone else would have had to have added him without getting to examine the injury, and Mariani's not under contract beyond this year so a new team could have been at risk for picking up a year's salary and getting nothing out of him. If he wasn’t claimed, he would have reverted to Tennessee’s IR. By putting Mariani directly on IR, he is assured of his $575,000 base salary this season but won’t play anywhere. The move means Darius Reynaud is the returner. He showed himself to be only the team’s fifth-best running back during camp, but sticks to handle punts and kickoffs.

Wildcard: If Rusty Smith clears waivers, the Titans will want the fourth-year quarterback back on their practice squad. He’s not been on the active roster for nine games in any of his first three seasons, so he retains his practice squad eligibility. If Smith is claimed, the Titans will need to find a young quarterback for the spot, who they can work to develop as insurance and who will be able to offer an option as the No. 2 if Jake Locker or Ryan Fitzpatrick suffers an injury that results in any missed time. One team that won't claim Smith -- his hometown Jacksonville Jaguars.

What's next: I could see the Titans shopping for a veteran safety as they sift through cuts. Seventh-round pick Daimion Stafford is on the roster now, but the Titans are heavy with strong safeties and light at free safety. They’d probably like better balance and Stafford could ultimately land on the practice squad. With 10 defensive linemen plus strongside linebacker Akeem Ayers in line to play a good share of end, the last pure end -- Keyunta Dawson -- is hardly a lock at this point. Only one injured Titan, rookie linebacker Zaviar Gooden, is likely to miss the season opener at Pittsburgh.

Tennessee Titans cuts: S Al Afalava, T Daniel Baldridge, TE Brandon Barden (injured), DT Stefan Charles, DT Zach Clayton, TE Jack Doyle, LB Gary Guyton, DT DaJohn Harris, S Corey Lynch, FB Collin Mooney, DE Nigel Nicholas, RB Jalen Parmele, WR Rashad Ross, LB Tim Shaw, QB Rusty Smith, LB-DE Scott Solomon, G Kasey Studdard, WR Dontel Watkins, LB Jonathan Willard, CB Khalid Wooten, C-G Fernando Velasco

Placed on Injured-reserve: WR/returner Marc Mariani.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Some observations from Friday evening’s Tennessee Titans training camp, the first open to fans...

In 7-on-7 work with no linemen:

Tight end Taylor Thompson angled away from a defender and was open about 15 yards from the line of scrimmage, but Jake Locker missed him with a wobbly ball that sailed too long.

Undrafted rookie receiver Rashad Ross was well-covered by corner Tommie Campbell, but quarterback Rusty Smith zipped a short pass completion to him anyway.

From his own 15-yard line, Locker looked for receiver Michael Preston but his terrible pass found cornerback Coty Sensabaugh, who picked off Ryan Fitzpatrick on Thursday.

In team periods:

Locker rolled left, against his arm, a few times by design. On one, he did very well to square his shoulders and hit Craig Stevens. On another he hit Justin Hunter, but cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson had it so well sniffed out he would have leveled the rookie receiver if allowed.

Locker threw a deep ball over Nate Washington's head up the right sideline. After he bounced one to Kenny Britt, Locker hit Damian Williams on a very nice pass down the middle for roughly 20 yards.

Defensive tackle Jurrell Casey showed great lateral movement and got nearly to the sideline to end one breakout running play by Jalen Parmele. Later Casey managed to knock the wind out of Shonn Greene after tracking him on a dump off pass closer to the line of scrimmage and the center of the field.

You can already see stretches where the Titans are working to mimic the sort of no-huddle, high-speed offense they will sometime have to defend. With a new batch of offensive players quickly taking over for the group that just ran routes and blocked, the defense had to race to get back into position for a snap.

On a “now” pass, the quarterback throws immediately to a receiver split wide who hasn’t really moved off the line of scrimmage. The ball has to arrive in a way that the receiver can run with it immediately. Locker threw one left to Kendall Wright, but Wright had to bend at the waste to pull it in from too low. That doesn’t lend itself to the play working.

Line of the day, from Britt to safety Bernard Pollard: “Your name’s Bernard, you ain’t THAT tough.”

Receiver Marc Mariani let a Fitzpatrick pass bounce off his hands that was picked off by linebacker Tim Shaw.

Campbell does look very confident and was in good position a lot. On another play, where Locker had someone in his face as he checked down short over the middle, Campbell closed and batted down a pass thrown for Hunter.

Backup kicker Maikon Bonani has a gigantic leg. But during the field goal period he had one atrocious miss, shanking his ball low and left and missing the wide screen set up well behind the goal posts.

I wanted to note one play in particular: Fitzpatrick lined up in the shotgun and the defense couldn’t get lined up. Multiple players were shouting calls, waving each other around and didn’t know what to do or where to line up. It’s a play where Fitzpatrick has to get his guys set -- maybe one was late, but I didn’t see it -- snap it quickly and take advantage of the defensive confusion. Instead, however, Fitzpatrick waited a long time and the defense found some semblance of organization. He wound up throwing a short incompletion that may have been a throwaway. The defense can’t win that play but did.

“Yes, we’d want him to snap it,” Mike Munchak said afterwards. “I don’t know if he was waiting for the defense or waiting for one of our guys. Generally, in a game we’d go. In a practice, I think he was making sure, because we weren’t in a hurry-up mode. The offense should have an advantage there, yes.”

Key injuries in the AFC South

December, 14, 2012
12/14/12
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A look at the key injuries and what they mean in the AFC South…

Colts

Safety Tom Zbikowski, right tackle Winston Justice, inside linebacker Kavell Conner, center Samson Satele and running back Delone Carter are out.

Of the new missing guys, replacements will be right tackle Jeff Linkenbach, inside linebacker Pat Angerer, center A.Q. Shipley and running back Mewelde Moore.

Jaguars

Running backs Rashad Jennings, Maurice Jones-Drew and Jordan Todman, cornerback Aaron Ross and defensive end George Selvie are out. Montell Owens will start at running back again.

Austin Pasztor is expected to start at let guard, where Mike Brewster is done for the season and Eben Britton is seemingly out of chances. Receiver Cecil Shorts is expected to play.

Texans

Outside linebacker Brooks Reed and cornerback Alan Ball are out. Whitney Mercilus will continue to work as the outside linebacker replacing Reed.

Inside linebacker Darryl Sharpton, safety Glover Quin (hip) and right tackle Derek Newton are questionable. Quintin Demps would replace Quin.

Titans

Designations come tomorrow since they play Monday night. Middle linebacker Colin McCarthy is not expected to play and Tim Shaw would start for him again. Receiver Damian Williams and end Scott Solomon also missed Friday practice.

RTC: On Texans' unsung heroes

December, 2, 2012
12/02/12
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Reading the coverage ...

Houston Texans

Stars have shined to get the Texans to 10-1, but there has also been a roster of unsung heroes like Donnie Jones, Justin Forsett and James Casey, says Tania Ganguli of the Houston Chronicle.

John McClain of the Chronicle runs through five keys for the Texans against the Titans, with an emphasis on defensive depth and defensive performance.

Brian Cushing is unsure about the idea of eliminating blocks below the waist, says Ganguli. He suffered a season-ending knee injury on such a block, but he knows the Texans' offense is keyed on cut blocking.

Indianapolis Colts

Mike Chappell of the Indianapolis Star sees Calvin Johnson against Reggie Wayne as Megatron versus Metronome.

The next test of depth comes at defensive tackle and safety where Fili Moala and Tom Zbikowski are out, says Chappell.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Mike Harris is an improving rookie cornerback who’s getting a lot of opportunity, says Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union. “He’s been confident the whole time and knows the system inside and out,” safety Dawan Landry said.

Gene Frenette of the Times-Union marvels at how Mike Mularkey has kept the Jaguars positive during a bad season.

The Jaguars promoted running back Richard Murphy from the practice squad and waived fullback Will Ta’ufo’ou, says O’Halloran.

Tennessee Titans

Like a number of Titans, Chris Johnson is optimistic about what Dowel Loggains will be able to do as offensive coordinator, says Jim Wyatt. Also, Tim Shaw will fill in for the injured Colin McCarthy at middle linebacker.

Fullback Collin Mooney was promoted from the practice squad, says Wyatt.

Rapid Reaction: Titans 26, Steelers 23

October, 11, 2012
10/11/12
11:52
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Thoughts on the Titans' last-second 26-23 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers at LP Field:

What it means: The Titans showed they can compete with a quality team, surrendering a lead and not giving up but fighting back to tie and win. Jared Cook keyed the final drive with a 25-yard catch-and-run from Matt Hasselbeck that positioned Rob Bironas' 40-yard field goal as time expired. The upset got the Titans to 2-4.

What I liked: The Titans were competitive, showing some resolve and fight from start to finish. Chris Johnson ran assertively behind good blocking with 19 carries for 91 yards. Special teams produced with Tim Shaw knifing through the line to block a Drew Butler punt at the end of the first quarter, setting the Titans up on the Steelers’ 1-yard line. Jamie Harper took it in for Tennessee’s first rushing touchdown of the season. After watching a lead disappear, the Titans fought back to get even with 4:19 left in the fourth. Pittsburgh's last chance came up short when Shaun Suisham didn't have the leg for a 54-yarder with 49 seconds left. That was enough time for the Titans.

What I didn’t like: The Steelers' first three possessions of the second half lasted 31 plays and 14:17 and produced 13 points, vaulting Pittsburgh to a 23-16 lead. Even the Steelers' third running back, Baron Batch, was productive during that stretch.

Nice recovery: Kenny Britt had the tying touchdown pass in his arms late in the fourth, only to lose it as he was tackled high by Ike Taylor, and lost his helmet. Taylor lost Britt on the next play for the same pass, and Britt made a big bobble but finally snatched it for the score that made it 23-23.

One change of note: While Mike Munchak talked of staying the course, the Titans did decide on one change for this game. Offensive coordinator Chris Palmer moved from the sideline to the coaching box.

What’s next: The Titans get the mini-bye and return to action Oct. 21 in Buffalo against the Bills. Jake Locker could return at quarterback after a two-game layoff with an injury to his left (non-throwing) shoulder.
The Titans need a pass-rusher and a center. In a year they could really need a free safety. The right kind of receiver would be intriguing.

One spot we’ve not talked much about is linebacker. They spent a second-rounder on strongside linebacker Akeem Ayers last year, when they also found a dynamic middle linebacker in fourth-rounder Colin McCarthy.

Veteran Will Witherspoon is on the weak side. He has some big games, and some where he seems kind of invisible. The team can find a bigger guy who’s more of a playmaker for the spot, be it now or in 2013.

The depth is poor. Gerald McRath was a starter in 2010 and didn’t take advantage of the chance. He was only occasionally situational last season. Patrick Bailey and Tim Shaw can fill in for a bit, but they are primarily special-teamers.

I don’t think Tennessee will go linebacker at No. 20, but Alabama’s Dont'a Hightower or Alabama’s Courtney Upshaw could be in play.

More likely the Titans will tab someone a bit later like Cal’s Mychal Kendricks or someone further down like Utah State’s Bobby Wagner.

AFC South links: Kampman eyes return

April, 3, 2012
4/03/12
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Houston Texans

A pair of free-agent signings last offseason paid off in a big way for Houston's defense in 2011.

Indianapolis Colts

Andrew Luck is scheduled to have a private workout in front of Colts officials on Tuesday.

Craig Kelley of Colts.com continues the position-by-position breakdown with a look at the specialists.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars defensive end Aaron Kampman is trying to prove his critics wrong once again.

Gene Frenette of The Florida Times-Union: "Despite enduring a ton of criticism, including fans who lamented the Jaguars not acquiring Tim Tebow recently in a trade to compete for the starting job, [Blaine] Gabbert has conditioned himself to leave the past in the rearview mirror. He refuses to get drawn in to negativity."

Tennessee Titans

Linebacker Tim Shaw isn't a fan of last season's rule change that moved kickoffs from the 30-yard line to the 35.

Free agent Chris Hope is still waiting for some team to come calling for his services.
Early thoughts on the Titans' players scheduled to become unrestricted free agents come March 13, with thanks to Mac’s Football Blog, where you can find complete team-by-team lists that include exclusive rights and restricted free agents.

The Titans have already re-signed three players who were heading for free agency: tight end Craig Stevens, tackle Mike Otto and receiver Lavelle Hawkins.

Fullback Ahmard Hall -- He’s a great locker room guy, but did not have a great season and the Titans have Quinn Johnson in house.

Wide receiver Donnie Avery -- Couldn’t push his way into action and presuming the team drafts at least one receiver, it should have no interest.

Guard Jake Scott -- Team will say thanks for solid service and look to get younger and better on the interior.

Defensive end Dave Ball -- He’s not the solution, but he’s a quality complementary part who can get into the backfield.

Defensive end William Hayes -- Just hasn’t panned out. The team needs at least one new end and there won’t be room for him any longer.

Defensive lineman Jason Jones -- Was not as good at end in the new defense as he was at tackle in the old one. He can still be a very good player.

Linebacker Barrett Ruud -- Didn’t play well before he was hurt, then got displaced by rookie Colin McCarthy.

Cornerback Cortland Finnegan -- I don’t think the Titans want him at anything near what he’ll be able to command.

Safety Jordan Babineaux -- Played well enough that safety-starved Tennessee should want him back.

Safety Michael Griffin -- Does the best when everything around him is going well. But the price he’ll want gets paid to a leader, not a follower.

Safety Chris Hope -- Made a difference on the field and in the locker room for a long time, but his time is now past.

Other UFAs:

RTC: Colts' defense can't change much

December, 4, 2011
12/04/11
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Reading the coverage ...

Houston Texans

T.J. Yates faced plenty of adversity while at UNC, so psychologically he should be able to handle a lot says Jeffrey Martin of the Houston Chronicle. One of his college coaches says he has “uncommon poise.”

The running game needs to be better than it was in Jacksonville, says John McClain of the Chronicle.

Lance Zierlein of chron.com says Atlanta ends John Abraham and Ray Edwards are defending the run well on the perimeter, which could be an issue for the Texans.

Indianapolis Colts

Larry Coyer is out and Mike Murphy is in as defensive coordinator for the Colts, but it’ll be difficult for the team to unleash much of a shakeup in the remaining five games, says Mike Chappell of the Indianapolis Star.

Cornerback Jerraud Powers relishes the chance to cover Wes Welker of the Patriots today, says Chappell.

Six things to watch for in Colts-Patriots from Nate Dunleavy of 18to88.com.

Jacksonville Jaguars

When Shahid Khan first got to the University of Illinois from Pakistan, he signed up for fraternity rush, eager to meet people who weren’t like him in his new home. The man in line to be the second owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars is an adventuresome opportunist, writes Tania Ganguli. That’s why those close to him are certain the team will succeed under his guidance.

With Will Middleton done for the season, the Jaguars have lost their top three outside cornerbacks, says Vito Stellino.

The change at receivers coach was overdue, says Gene Frenette.

Tennessee Titans

David Climer of The Tennessean likes the fact that Mike Munchak doesn’t have an agent. It means when he says he’s not talked to Penn State, it actually holds water. But Climer says Penn State could do far worse, and likely will.

The Titans have been great when they’ve gone for it on fourth down, and their eight conversions in 10 tries have provided a bit of a boost, says John Glennon of The Tennessean.

Linebacker and special teamer Tim Shaw conducts a video investigation into the Titans’ facial hair for titansonline.com.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Titans coach Mike Munchak rates as an all-time great at Penn State, where he played on Joe Paterno’s offensive line from 1978-81 and got a business degree.

Munchak is the first Nittany Lion to be an NFL head coach.

Munchak
Munchak
Wednesday he talked at length about the scandal rocking State College, Pa., and the college football world, about the man at the center of the scandal, Jerry Sandusky, and about Joe Paterno, who announced he intends to step down after the season.

Highlights of that section of Munchak’s media session.
  • “For me this whole thing has been a horrible situation. It’s been a tragedy that something like this can happen. I can’t imagine what the victims and their families have been through.
  • “(Paterno) is probably doing what he needs to do. He knows what’s gone on here and I’m assuming he sat back and thought this is what’s best for the university and for him going forward.”
  • “It’s the shock of it all. I was there four years, Jerry (Sandusky) was there as a coordinator, and to think that he’s involved in something like this or accused of something like this, it’s very hard to take in.”
  • “I haven’t been back to Penn State that much over the years because of playing football and coaching it. I wasn’t close with Jerry by any means, but I was there with him for four years and knew a lot about him. I never spent a whole lot of time with him.”
  • “(Paterno) is ultimately responsible for anything that happens while he’s the head coach there, and so he knows he has a lot of responsibility in this.”
  • “I think I speak for everyone that’s gone there. (Paterno) was a great coach to be around. I know the players were very important to him, not just as football players but as people, he made that very clear. I thought the way he handled the team, the way he motivated the team, the stories he told us, it was more about life, not just football. He really cared, was concerned for what you did after football. The school thing was legitimate, he did want guys to graduate. All the things you heard about him were exactly true. I don’t think that’ll change for anybody… That university wouldn’t be what it is today without him. Unfortunately right now it’s not something you’re going to dwell on. People realize that… the question is, how did all this happen?”
  • “It’s heartbreaking for me. We get caught up in the football. It’s the kids and the families that went through this.”
  • “(Paterno) is like anybody else, he’s going to make some mistakes. I don’t know what kind of mistakes he made in all this, I’m not going to judge him -- at all. I don’t think it’s smart to judge anybody, especially when you don’t know exactly what went on and what he was told and all the details of this thing. I just go on my experiences with him. I’ve made a lot of mistakes myself, so, no, it won’t change how I feel about him, my relationship with him, what he’s done for me and my career as a player. Those kinds of things will always stay the same. Yeah, it’s going to be a black eye for a while for Penn State University, but the university will go on and recover from this.”

Munchak also said, isolating football from the rest, he thinks it’s OK that Paterno finish the season as coach.

Titans special teamer and linebacker Tim Shaw, who played at Penn State, said in his experience Sandusky's "Second Mile" organization was "a big, big positive spot in Central Pennsylvania."

Shaw urged people to let justice run it's course as things are sorted out.

"Let's handle it the right way because we're coming at somebody who didn't do it the right way," he said.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Titans certainly got some good out of a two-hour, player organized practice session that included more than 50 participants on Wednesday morning at Father Ryan High School.

Cornerback Cortland Finnegan and guard Jake Scott deserve credit for getting so many players out.

Of note:

  • Eugene Amano and Jake Scott
    Paul Kuharsky/ESPN.comOffensive linemen Eugene Amano, left, and Jake Scott work against each other.
    Running back Chris Johnson was part of things. He said his contract isn’t on his mind right now and declared that he expects rookie quarterback Jake Locker to start right out of the gate. Here’s the news story.
  • Locker had some nice moments and some that were not so good. About what you’d expect. He certainly threw the ball better than Brett Ratliff. And he didn’t go the Joe Cool route like Ratliff and Rusty Smith, who practiced in sunglasses.
  • The host school’s football staff ran the individual position drills, which had to be a cool thing for most of them. From the stretch through some team work, players seemed to strike just the right measure of laughs with work.
  • Safety Michael Griffin said the defense just worked through basic coverages. Players expect the new defense, coordinated by Jerry Gray will touch on them all. They thought running through basics rather than trying to learn and execute anything new was the smart approach.
  • Among the notables under contract who were missing -- and let’s be clear they didn’t have to be there and could have had very legitimate reasons for not making it -- were Michael Roos, David Stewart, Kenny Britt, Nate Washington, Damian Williams, Lavelle Hawkins, Alterraun Verner, William Hayes and Brett Kern. Justin Gage was a late arrival and just watched.
  • Without their own receivers, the Titans benefited from the presence of three quality outsiders: Derrick Mason of the Ravens, Golden Tate of the Seahawks and Patrick Turner of the Jets. Mason started his career with Tennessee and still has an area home while Tate and Turner are both from Nashville. Tate went to Father Ryan arch rival Pope John Paul II, and wore his purple Ryan shirt inside out.
  • Gerald McRath and Akeem Ayers
    Paul Kuharsky/ESPN.comLinebacker Gerald McRath coaches up second-round pick Akeem Ayers.
    Several players who are not under contract for 2011 participated: defensive end Dave Ball, guard Leroy Harris, linebacker Tim Shaw and safety Donnie Nickey. Nickey had a big, early collision in seven-on-seven work with Marc Mariani as both went up for a pass from Ratliff that put the receiver at risk. It was the only obvious injury scare of the day. Both bounced up.
  • Plays of note: Mariani dropped a well-thrown deep ball from Locker after slipping behind multiple defenders. Corner Jason McCourty dropped a pick of a pass that bounced off Jared Cook; Ratliff threw an incredibly bad, incomplete pass down the deep middle, a duck that wobbled more than a lot of punts do.
  • Among the guys I saw doing a great deal of leading of young guys were Scott, Ball, defensive back Vincent Fuller and linebacker Gerald McRath.
  • The Titans will have another session Thursday.
The Titans and Texans have doled out their tenders offers to players who could wind up restricted free agents.

But if a new CBA reverts to a formula in which players with at least four years of service and an expired contract are unresticted free agents, only four of 13 contract offers made by the two teams will wind up having any meaning.

Mark Berman says Houston didn't tender linebacker Zac Diles and strong safety Bernard Pollard. That means even in a scenario most favorable to the team in which it could maintain control over their fates, the Texans don't want them.

So Houston doesn't view Diles as a fit in its new 3-4 front and will be looking for two new safeties -- it recently cut incumbent free safety Eugene Wilson.

Among the tenders that would stick in even the players' best-case scenarios, leaving them restricted: Houston guard Mike Brisiel, Titans linebackers Patrick Bailey and Tim Shaw and Titans tackle Mike Otto.

Other Texans tendered who are likely to wind up unrestricted based on service time: tight end Owen Daniels, quarterback Matt Leinart, defensive end Mark Anderson, offensive tackle Rashad Butler and receiver Jacoby Jones. Along with Pollard and Diles, the Texans didn't tender offensive lineman Kasey Studdard or defensive end Tim Bulman.

Other Titans tendered who are likely to wind up unrestricted based on service time: Linebacker Stephen Tulloch, fullback Ahmard Hall, defensive end Jacob Ford and guard Leroy Harris.

John Glennon reports the Titans passed on tendering linebacker Colin Allred, a played they could have held onto.

AFC South Week 15 decisive moment

December, 21, 2010
12/21/10
1:00
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NFC Decisive Moments: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

We’re going to be rebellious here and go with three moments instead of one, because they are easily grouped.

The Titans were super-aggressive on fourth down early in their 31-17 win over the Texans at LP Field on Sunday.

They converted a fourth-and-8 from the Houston 49 on the first possession of the game, with Kerry Collins hitting Damian Williams up the left side for a 39-yard gain.

They stuffed Arian Foster for a 4-yard loss when the Texans went for it on fourth-and-1 from the Tennessee 35 on their first possession. Linebacker Tim Shaw stuffed Foster and set the Titans up for a second quick scoring drive.

Then, the Titans converted a fourth-and-1 from the Houston 1 as Collins hit Justin Gage on a fade for a touchdown. With just 8:22 gone in the game, the Titans were up 14-0 and on their way.

“We felt good about what we had, and as I said after the game, we felt good about being able to anticipate some things that we might get and attack them,” Jeff Fisher said. “We predicted and guessed right and it helps that we were able to execute.”

RTC: Bad reviews for Pierre Garcon

November, 17, 2010
11/17/10
10:08
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Reading the coverage ...

Don Banks has an assessment of the current playoff picture.

Jeff Pearlman picks his worst 100 NFL players of all time.

Houston Texans

The offense is having trouble producing a 60-minute effort, says John McClain.

Of the 11 significant defensive statistics, the Texans are ranked 28th or worse in eight, says McClain.

Gary Kubiak’s task this week is to get the Texans thinking differently, says Richard Justice.

David Anderson may rename his dog.

A look at how bad the Texans’ defense is, from Alan Burge.

Indianapolis Colts

Injured players are expected to tough it out, says Phillip B. Wilson.

Mixing and matching linebackers is working for the Colts, says Phil Richards.

Mike Chappell thinks Austin Collie, when healthy, should be ahead of Pierre Garcon. I agree.

Indianapolis overcomes adversity through consistency, says John Czarnecki.

The Colts are in remarkably good shape considering their circumstances, says John Oehser.

Nate Dunlevy considers just how bad a season Garcon is having.

Delving into holding calls with Brett Mock.

Jacksonville Jaguars

The ticket office is working to avoid a blackout of Sunday’s game against Cleveland, says Vito Stellino.

Is David Garrard ready to stay at a high level, asks Gene Frenette.

The Hail Mary excitement spilled into Tuesday, says Stellino.

The pass rush sagged some against the Texans, says Tania Ganguli.

There’s not going to be a pass interference call on a Hail Mary, says Vic Ketchman.

Richard Collier plans on walking again, says Jim Henry. (Hat tip to Matt Loede.)

Tennessee Titans

Now is the time for Vince Young to show he’s the present and the future for the Titans, says David Climer.

Five things John Glennon knows about the Titans.

Patrick Bailey and Tom Shaw have done what the Titans expected on special teams, says David Boclair.

Jason Babin and Cortland Finnegan make Brian DiTullio’s list of the league’s 25 dirtiest players.

Bye Report: Tennessee Titans

November, 5, 2010
11/05/10
2:11
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Our 10-point bye report on the Tennessee Titans:

Major issue: Chris Johnson’s totals are still fine, but coach Jeff Fisher pointed at the run game as a major issue heading into the team’s week off. Johnson is averaging just 3.2 yards a carry in the past two games and the yet Titans say there is no one issue. They are rotating through different problems -- a missed block, a well-played defensive snap, an incorrect read. They expect Randy Moss to back defenses off and help Johnson’s cause.

Strong seasons: I came into the season believing two veteran players who were first-round picks out of Texas needed to assert themselves for the Titans to contend. Vince Young has missed a game plus almost three quarters, but he’s been efficient and increasingly productive and currently ranks as the league’s highest-rated passer. Free safety Michael Griffin was a distracted guy last year, missing all kind of plays. His head’s on straight and he’s been great.

Close-game conclusions: Tennessee did great work finishing off Philadelphia in the final quarter. But the Titans were in range of Pittsburgh, Denver and San Diego at the end and didn’t really manage to threaten their leads. They probably aren’t going to win all those games, but they need to win more of them.

New contributors: The Titans have gotten nice contributions from veteran additions like defensive end Jason Babin (seven sacks) and Will Witherspoon and from rookies like play-making cornerback Alterraun Verner, steady return man Marc Mariani and receiver Damian Williams, who’s gotten more chances recently.

Line questions: Eugene Amano was moved to center and Leroy Harris inserted at guard on the offensive line heading into the season. Even halfway through the schedule, the line seems a bit unsettled and hasn’t matched last year’s effort in terms of run-blocking or pass protection. Jake Scott, Michael Roos and David Stewart also have not met their standards as the team absorbed 15 sacks in eight games, after yielding that many all of last season.

The big story ahead: Moss will arrive in Tennessee in the coming days and much fanfare will come with him. Players are raving about the move and may well be star struck. But for all the insiders that feel the team doesn’t get enough attention, the spotlight is coming. If a guy plays great or falls flat on his face now, more people will know about it.

Unsung: Linebackers Patrick Bailey and Tim Shaw were late acquisitions brought in to add depth and fill a lot of roles on special teams. The Titans have given up too many kick return yards, but otherwise, special teams have fared pretty well and they’ve helped the cause with a lot of tackles.

APB: Jared Cook needs to force his way onto the field. The tight end is a matchup nightmare, but he has not gained the team’s confidence. He semi-complained about having only a special teams role, then went on to drop a sure touchdown pass in San Diego. He’s only a year and a half into his career, but at this point it’s reasonable to wonder if the trade up to get him in the 2009 draft was worth it.

Backup effectiveness: In a league where plenty of teams have questions about their starting quarterback, the Titans have gotten efficient play from backup Kerry Collins. He’s cleaned up for a banged up Young in three games and started one. He won his start and the Titans are 1-2 in the other games. The team is pleased with his work, some of which he did after tearing up a finger on his throwing hand.

What’s to come: The Titans head to Miami and host Washington before the meat of the division schedule cranks up and they play AFC South foes five of the final six weeks of the season.

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